MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Leaders at Minot State University say they need more psychology students and in hopes of supporting that goal, the college has received a $4 million grant to provide support to graduate psychology students.

Minot State University will be receiving $4,355,179 over five years from the U.S. Department of Education’s Mental Health Service Professionals Demonstration Program.

The North Dakota School Psychology Service Professional Development Grant pushes to increase the number of psychologists in the state.

“The first purpose is to just get more school psychologists into North Dakota because right now North Dakota has 64 and we need 225 just to break even. And the second is to get more diverse people into K-12 schools in mental health roles,” said Penny Craven, the Minot State Psychology program director.

Minot State is partnered with the Bureau of Indian Education – Turtle Mountain Schools on the grant.

“It’s going to be a field-based training site for our students. So all four of those students will go and they’ll do their internships and their practicum in Turtle Mountain. And get that experience with Native American populations which will be really cool. And gain all those additional skills,” said Craven.

The grant covers costs like tuition and fees, a book allowance, and more.

A student who currently lives in Turtle Mountain says she’s thankful for the grant because she can complete her studies while staying at home.

“Continuing your education isn’t always easy, especially being a young, busy mother of four. I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to do well in school and through my academics, as well as provide financially for my family. And with the help of this grant, I’m able to shift a lot of that focus from that financial strain,” said Kandace Desjarlais, a Minot State Psychology graduate student.

She says she’s happy to be on the path to be a psychologist because diversity is important.

“I hope that through this grant, my journey brings, I’m able to be that stepping stone in order to advocate for future Native American students to pursue graduate studies, especially in the school psychology field. And I think it’s such an important part of our school system,” said Desjarlais.

Desjarlais says she’s extremely thankful for the scholarship and also encourages other students to apply for the opportunity to help others grow in the field.

The grant began on January 1st of this year and it will provide funding to support 28 graduate students in the Psychology program.